Phytolith Analysis and the Indus Civilisation: A Review
This paper presents a review of the application of phytolith analysis to the archaeology of the Indus Civilisation (c. 4000-1300 BCE) of South Asia. Phytoliths are microscopic silica casts of plant cells formed during the life of the plant through the uptake of monosilicic acid from groundwater. The phytolith studies that have thus far been carried out on Indus settlement sites are reviewed, and the range of issues to which phytolith analysis has been applied to Indus archaeology are also outlined here. This paper argues that phytolith analysis holds great potential for gaining alternative views on age-old archaeological questions relating to the Indus Civilisation. It concludes that although understudied at the moment, there is much to be gained by employing phytolith analysis systematically during archaeological studies in this region and time period.